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Veteran officer's New Jersey race discrimination suit settled

The rights of employees in a New Jersey workplace are protected by state and federal laws. Workers may hesitate to make claims against employers for many reasons. Among them are fear of unemployment for being a "troublemaker" and retaliation.

A New Jersey race discrimination lawsuit was resolved recently with a $99,000 out-of-court settlement. The three defendants in the case - the former Hoboken mayor, police chief and public safety director - will not go to trial. As part of the agreement, the plaintiff, a 25-year veteran African-American police officer, will remain on the city's force until retirement next spring.

The discrimination lawsuit was filed in 2010, two years after the officer earned a certification for a promotion to sergeant. The officer allegedly was told by the defendants that the promotion was guaranteed during the three months the certification was active. However, the officer was never promoted.

Case records stated that the officer observed the defendants pushing "cronies" and "favorites" up the promotion ladder by putting them in "acting" job roles before formalizing promotions.

The discrimination complaint claimed that the Hoboken Police Department was a hostile work environment. The plaintiff said he witnessed fellow officers mimicking the outfits of Ku Klux Klan members by putting napkins atop their heads. Photos of that behavior later became public. The African-American police officer also said he was the victim of workplace retaliation after complaining about the force's racism.

The long-time law enforcement officer also claimed that he suffered emotional damage. He charged his bosses with violations of the state constitution, the anti-discrimination law and the New Jersey Conscientious Employees Protection Act - also known as the Whistleblower Act.

Legal actions by employees usually occur after a worker exhausts all formal, internal complaint channels at a company. However, there is nothing holding you back from consulting with an attorney about employment law in order to understand the obligations you have as an employee and plaintiff before filing a liability claim.


Source: 
nj.com, "Hoboken cop settles racial discrimination lawsuit with city for $99K" Jonathan Lin, Nov. 22, 2013

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